WEDDINGTON – One Weddington Town Council member is concerned residents might be too resistant to change and are limiting the use and development of land in the town.
Mayor Pro Tem Dan Barry is waiting to see the results of a survey Weddington released last week that will help council determine public opinion on the reassessment of the land-use plan as it gets ready for 2013.
“In the land use plan, we will begin to discuss whether we allow things like more mixed-use space, small retail, requiring fire hydrants to be installed when developments are built, among other things,” he said. “The challenge we have as elected officials is when you only provide one form of development in your community, that’s all you’re going to get.”
Barry said landowners under the current land-use plan are too limited.
“When you only provide for residential, then as a landowner, if I want to yield any financial return on my property, the only thing I can do is build houses,” he said.
Barry explained the addition of more houses causes overcrowding in schools, exasperates traffic congestion and increases the burden on services like water and sewer.
“It’s our number one responsibility to protect the integrity of our schools,” he said of overcrowding. “Even though we don’t run the schools, we can hurt or we can help them.”
Weddington has a history of no other kind of development other than retail, Barry said.
“For the first time, we’re forcing a conversation,” he said. “I want to protect the integrity and character of my community, but I don’t like government telling private citizens what they can and cannot do with their private property.”
Barry said he doesn’t know what the answer is going to be, but that he hopes residents will broaden their horizons.
“Now as we’ve seen growth, we’re getting more people in Weddington who want more options,” he said. “We’ll analyze the survey and look at different components of the plan and map to try to determine growth patterns for the next seven years.”
There is a pro-development side and an anti-development side in Weddington, but the majority of people are around the middle, Barry said.
“There are people who just don’t want the developers here,” he said. “But that’s just not reality. As a landowner, I want to use my assets as I determine them. We need to allow for a little bit of different stuff, but not a lot. We need to grow around the center, but not very far.
“We need to recognize that demographics have changed, some of our citizens are getting older, housing lots are more than 1 acre. This is an atmosphere that can spawn higher-end retail and restaurants.”